Cranky Crow World Music – Runoja Review

Cranky Crow World Music / Sinikka Langeland (Norway) Runoja Helio/Grappa

It might sound unreasonable to call Scandinavia hot and yet, the Nordic music scene seems to be reaching a boiling point, metaphorically speaking. Non-stop fiddling, Sami yoiks and the Karelian runo song are making waves on the international scene. Many musicians such as Wimme and Garmarna have embarked into techno territory while other artists have remained rooted in ancient traditions and sometimes delving into other spiritual realms (shamanism) or metaphysical subjects. Norwegian vocalist and kantele player Sinikka Langeland offers organic and primal songs on her CD, Runoja that are anchored in ancient shamanism.

Runoja (Rune Magician) refers to shamanic healers that work with rune chants. Runo songs hail from the Balto-Finnish people and can be found in the Karelian region of Finland and Russia as well as, Finnsskogen, Norway. Rune songs come in several categories including epic rune, lyrical rune, chain rune and incantations. The Skogfinns brought healing and protection incantations to Finnskogen (Norway) in the 1600’s. Langeland arranges the incantations into actual songs while embellishing them with vocals, kantele (a type of zither performed in northwest Russia, Baltic States and Finland), acoustic bass (Bjorn Kjellemyr), drums (Pal Thowsen) and trumpet (Arve Henriksen). This skeletal combination of instruments gets a workout. The drums often sound like tom toms or timpani and the bass possesses a drone similar to a didgeridoo while the katele’s notes glide over the bass line. Langeland’s lush soprano vocals resemble a jazzy Joanie Mitchell as well as, Nordic vocalists Jenny Wilhelm and Marie Boine. As you can imagine, the end result is absolutely stunning.

The music featured here carries a mystical quality that resemble the music of Hedningarna and Gjallarhorn with drone and instinctive drum rhythms. Langeland passionate singing borders on spirit possession and creates an other-worldly atmosphere that appears ancient and contemporary at the same time. Runoja acts as the perfect anecdote for over-produced music that is being passed off as folk-root and these roots go deep into the ancestral soil. Just close your eyes and listen to the ancestors speak.

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